A great day at school doesn’t start in the morning, it starts the night before. Sleep plays an important role in learning. A good sleep schedule and restful night makes it easier to focus, tackle new concepts and remember the topics you’ve already covered.

If you’re like many families, your kids’ sleep schedules are a little out of whack after a summer of long days, activities and getaways. However, a few small changes can make a big difference in their quality of sleep.

Research shows that helping your child get the right amount of sleep is one of the most important things you can do to help them succeed at school.

These tips can help you create a bedtime routine that will leave your kids feeling rested and refreshed when the bell rings.

Ease Into Your Routine

Establishing good sleep habits doesn’t happen overnight. If your child needs to wake up earlier for school, start adjusting their bedtime so they still get the recommended hours of sleep.

As school approaches, progressively wake your kids 15 minutes earlier each morning. In the evening, put them to bed 15 minutes earlier than the previous day. This will help you work toward your target bedtime gradually.

Put Screens to Sleep

Electronic devices are an important part of learning these days. However, studies show screens can impact kids’ sleep.

Reducing screen time in the hours before lights-out can help your kids fall asleep earlier and get better quality sleep. Kids are especially sensitive to the blue light waves emitted by TVs, tablets and phones — because blue light waves interfere with the body’s natural production of a melatonin, a hormone that makes you feel sleepy.

Consider moving screens out of the bedroom and limiting screen time before bed.

Track Your Progress

Track your kids’ sleep to see how much shuteye they are getting on a regular basis. Young children love to earn stickers, gold stars and other incentives. A sleep chart is a great way to provide visual encouragement for good sleep habits.

Help your child log their Zzz’s and shoot for the CDC’s daily sleep recommendations.

Create an Evening Ritual

Wind down with a relaxing, quiet activity. Help your child take a bath, listen to soothing music or read a book. Then, try to head to bed around the same time each night, even on weekends. Older children and teens can benefit from a pre-bed ritual, too. Use the time to connect and talk about your day.

Earn More Zzz’s

Unlock your best sleep with these simple sleep habits:

  • Be active during the day
  • Avoid liquids and large meals before bed
  • Create a relaxing sleep environment
  • Avoid screen time before bed
  • Keep naps short and before 3 p.m.

Progress, not perfection, is the goal. Do the best you can, especially during the school year.

Plan your nightly routine to a T.

Check out our chart to find the best time to hit the hay!

Want more ideas to build healthy habits? You’ll find great recipes, fun ideas and lots of encouragement at ShapeYourFutureOK.com.